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> Discography Revisit Thread 12, Blue Moves
BiteUrLip
Posted: December 05, 2017 11:27 pm
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Okay, this album has always been hard for me to love, especially because of the 2nd disc which has problematic songs. Side one is brilliant. This album could be Elton's best if it wasn't a double album.

There was one surprise with my listen over the album - I suddenly can tolerate "Theme..." better!

1. Your Starter For... ****
2. Tonight *****+
3. One Horse Town *****
4. Chameleon *****
5. Boogie Pilgrim ****
6. Cage The Songbird *****+
7. Crazy Water *****+
8. Shoulder Holster ****
9. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word *****
10. Out Of The Blue ****
11. Between Seventeen And Twenty *****
12. The Wide-Eyed And Laughing *
13. Someone's Final Song *****
14. Where's The Shoorah? *****
15. If There's A God In Heaven (What's He Waiting For?) *
16. Idol *****
17. Theme From A Non-Existent TV Series ***
18. Bite Your Lip (Get Up And Dance!) *****++


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commodore orpington
Posted: December 06, 2017 12:37 am
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Love it. I think I've exhausting myself for enough years defending it, though.


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DougS
Posted: December 06, 2017 01:42 am
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BLUE MOVES:

This is a very unique EJ & BT album for so many reasons; it is considered the end of that classic 1970-76 run, it is the last album to feature Bernie Taupin as the single lyricist until 1983, it is an album which featured 7 songs written or co-written by band members, it is an album filled with string orchestration, horns, choirs, and countless guest musicians, it was the last Gus Dudgeon produced album for a decade, and it is an album which has 3 instrumental songs. Elton would also never again work with Caleb Quaye. Gone was an era; the next Elton John full studio album would be A SINGLE MAN without the formal Elton John Band or Bernie Taupin or Gus Dudgeon who were all instrumental in helping create the "Elton John sound" of the classic early years. It was the first studio album since MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER not to go #1 in the charts in the USA; a chart position Elton has yet to return to in America.

BLUE MOVES was apparently going to be a single album titled BLACK MOVES but the record company got wind of the fact that there were lots of songs written and recorded so they pushed, against producer Gus Dudgeon's will, for a double album. Apparently 8 or 9 of the songs that ended up on BLUE MOVES were outtakes from the ROCK OF THE WESTIES sessions. Also, there were, apparently, other more rocking mixes of some of the songs. Clearly the raw edgier approach of ROCK OF THE WESTIES was dropped for a bit more polished an approach complete with lots of overdubs, backing vocalists (11 in fact!), and lots of strings and horns to fill out the sound. Gene Page and Paul Buckmaster added their arrangements and choirs appeared on 3 songs. Some famous names such as Crosby & Nash as well as the Captain & Tennille added to the backing vocal tasks. Non-typical rock music instruments such as the accordion, the sitar, and the cello were used on the album as well. The result is certainly a colourful rich sound for BLUE MOVES. It was a fast and slow and very slow and happy and angry and sad album. It was Elton's only Canada recording; Eastern Sound in Toronto in early 1976.

Band members Caleb Quaye, Davey Johnstone, and James Newton Howard all chipped in on songwriting duties; 6 songs were co-written with these band members plus Caleb penned the instrumental "Your Starter For." Apparently Elton found many of Bernie's lyrics to be very sad and depressing; reflecting the breakdown in Bernie's marriage and his heavy drinking at the time. Musically, BLUE MOVES was all over the map.

BLUE MOVES went to #3 in the USA and the UK and #4 in Canada. Its best year-end charting positions came in Canada in 1976 and 1977. France, too, embraced the album and the first single "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" which is still a fan favourite in France and other European countries. The song was #1, #2, and #3 all over Europe. Apparently most of the song's lyric was from Elton. Unfortunately the album didn't create any major success with another single. "Crazy Water" went #27 in the UK and "Bite Your Lip (Get Up and Dance!)" went #28 in the UK and the USA. Elton insisted that "Bite Your Lip (Get Up and Dance!)" be released as a single being sure it would be a hit. The single has a shortened remixed version. One big hit single WAS recorded; "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was recorded in a reverse songwriting way and became the monster AM hit single (#1 everywhere, it seemed) for the summer of 1976! Obviously, it didn't fit into the mood of the album and was omitted. The B-side "Snow Queen" was a BLUE MOVES outtake written by Bernie in a not too pleasant way about Cher...

BLUE MOVES for me has one of the best sides of music; side one with "Your Starter For" and "Tonight" and "One Horse Town." These songs still sound good today. Both "Tonight" and "One Horse Town" were featured in the 1985 and 1986 tours. "Tonight" continued on in EJ's solo shows and concerts with Ray Cooper. Clearly it is one of the very best album tracks ever written by Elton. I think that I am one of the few who loves "Boogie Pilgrim" partly for Davey's slide guitar but also for the horns and cool backing vocals. "Crazy Water" with its orchestration still sounds good and was considered by Gus to be one of Elton's best ever songs. "Chameleon" has a great outro aided by the backing vocals which rounds out that excellent side 1. Davey co-wrote "Cage the Songbird" which is a beautiful acoustic guitar driven ballad. Sides 3 and 4 have some really cool and interesting songs but lack the cohesiveness of sides 1 & 2. Again, I think that I am one of the few who really like the experimentation of "The Wide-eyed and Laughing" with its sitar. Lots of slow and depressing but, at times, beautiful songs appear on sides 3 & 4 such as "Someone's Final Song" and "Idol" and, of course, "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word." Sides 3 & 4 have a surprising 4 tracks without any drums and the pace does slow down quite a bit, at times. One track on side 3, "Between Seventeen and Twenty," was apparently related to Bernie's estranged wife Maxine having a relationship with bassist Kenny Passarelli. In stark contrast is the somewhat progressive instrumental rock track "Out of the Blue" and the super-fast "Theme From a Non-Existent TV Series." To me BLUE MOVES is a brave album from Elton; lots of musical instrumentation, lots of styles, and lots of moods.

BLUE MOVES didn't get much promotional push from Elton who was exhausted and somewhat burnt out after 6 years of constant writing and touring. There would be 8 songs from BLUE MOVES that Elton would do live at least once with about 6 of them being played for at least a single tour or many tours. Elton still says, after all these years, that it is one of his favourite albums...

Doug
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Dr john
Posted: December 06, 2017 11:40 am
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The theme from an non-existent tv series...was used for many years as the closing music to BBC top gear...and not a lot of people know that (said in my very best Micheal Caine voice)


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BiteUrLip
Posted: December 06, 2017 02:09 pm
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QUOTE (Dr john @ December 06, 2017 11:40 am)
The theme from an non-existent tv series...was used for many years as the closing music to BBC top gear...and not a lot of people know that (said in my very best Micheal Caine voice)

That's cool, Doc! Thanks for telling us. rolleyes.gif


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whyd-eyed
Posted: December 07, 2017 03:43 pm
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It's interesting that Elton often pushes for commercialism and 'happy' tones when he's the driving force of a record getting made, but at the same time, will admit he gravitates mostly towards down/sombre/reflective music.

I love the emotional battle that blue moves wrestles with throughout the journey. It feels the most appropriately EJ+Bernie of all of the albums they've made, to me. It illustrates why they are necessary partners - with, in their best moments, Bernie giving Elton permission (with his words) to peel back his facade and public-facing show and allowing him to be honest with himself in the process. It took me literal years to come to any sort of understanding about why this record fascinated me so much.

Totally agree with Side 1 being a masterwork.

I remember writing a novella about 'Idol' here once laugh.gif Still my favorite piece of music Elton's ever put on record.
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rocketman
Posted: December 07, 2017 09:52 pm
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Blue Moves is one of my favorite albums, though Disc Two of the double set drives the rating down a bit for me. Disc One (Sides 1&2), on it's own, would rank possibly as my all-time favorite single album.

1. Your Starter For... 4.5
2. Tonight 5
3. One Horse Town 5+
4. Chameleon 4
5. Boogie Pilgrim 4.5
6. Cage The Songbird 4.5
7. Crazy Water 5+
8. Shoulder Holster 4.5

9. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word 4
10. Out Of The Blue 4
11. Between Seventeen And Twenty 4.5
12. The Wide-Eyed And Laughing 3
13. Someone's Final Song 4.5
14. Where's The Shoorah? 4.5
15. If There's A God In Heaven (What's He Waiting For?) 4
16. Idol 4
17. Theme From A Non-Existent TV Series 3
18. Bite Your Lip (Get Up And Dance!) 4

Breaking this down into 2 discs by adding a space between songs 8 and 9, it's clear that Disc 1 is not only the superior disc of this set but also a great album on its own, with nothing rating less than a 4, it's largely excellent, and almost rivals Madman in overall quality.

Meanwhile, Disc 2 has no 5-star songs, with the gospel-infused Where's The Shoorah? and Someone's Final Song and Between 17&20 getting to 4.5. There are also two 3-star efforts, which in my estimation is a number denoting a decent, but flawed, song.

Production-wise, I've always loved this album. Unlike Westies, it has an expansive, detailed sound. Obviously, the intent is different here than on Westies. This is not a hard-driving rock album, but much more of a musical soundscape, with various tones and 'colors' if you will, covering a much wider range of genres.


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DougS
Posted: December 08, 2017 08:45 am
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rocketman:

Yeah, agreed that sides 1 & 2 make a classic album collection.

The interesting thing about sides 3 & 4 is that they are filled with some fans personal favourites. While one fan may love one song (eg. "Where's The Shoorah?") other fans may not like it at all but love other songs (eg. "Out of the Blue") which are not popular amongst many other fans. I know people who love and others who hate "Idol." I know others who love and hate "The Wide-Eyed and Laughing" and so on...

Maybe sides 3 & 4 are not consistent and cohesive but they do have favourite songs for many people. There are so many songs here that are major favourites for people.

One thing can be said; Elton pushed the stylistic envelope on BLUE MOVES!

Doug
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rocketman
Posted: December 08, 2017 03:25 pm
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Yes, for example, I'm a big fan of Where's The Shoorah?, and almost rated it a 5 stars. But I don't really care much for The Wide Eyed And Laughing, and even the hit song, Sorry Seems, is one I don't find especially compelling.

Even so, the album as a whole is well within my Top Ten.


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DougS
Posted: December 09, 2017 06:53 am
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rocketman:

This was the challenge with BLUE MOVES when it came out; to pull the fans together over two sides of music. Just too much variety to create a unified acceptance of all the songs. That, too, is one of the great things about Elton at his best; he is capable of writing so many styles of music and doing it well.

I have always wondered what BLACK MOVES would have resulted in being. I guess we'll never know. BLUE MOVES was all remixed after being recorded and mixed. How different were the earlier mixes that were rejected?

The really interesting stuff EJ must have somewhere in his possession. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC AND THE BROWN DIRT COWBOY also had up to 3 extra mixes of each song. Where are those? Hidden away with the BLACK MOVES mixes probably!

Doug
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nix
Posted: December 09, 2017 06:40 pm
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1. Your Starter For... ***
2. Tonight *****
3. One Horse Town ***
4. Chameleon ****
5. Boogie Pilgrim **
6. Cage The Songbird ***
7. Crazy Water ****
8. Shoulder Holster ****
9. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word *****
10. Out Of The Blue *
11. Between Seventeen And Twenty ***
12. The Wide-Eyed And Laughing ***
13. Someone's Final Song ***
14. Where's The Shoorah? ****
15. If There's A God In Heaven (What's He Waiting For?) **
16. Idol ****
17. Theme From A Non-Existent TV Series ***
18. Bite Your Lip (Get Up And Dance!) **
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